So it all comes down to this. It doesn’t matter how many games you won during the regular season, all that matters is winning in the Playoffs. The teams with the best records this past season are now keenly aware of that, and now a couple of six seeds are squaring off against the two seeds. Madden 11 has been less than stellar in it’s predictions this season with a hearty record of 2-6, but can it predict who will be in the Super Bowl, well let’s see:
New York vs. Pittsburgh - Jets 10, Steelers 3:
Just for fun I played our sims this week in the snow, and apparently that wreaked havoc on this particular game. I can’t remember the last time a Madden sim was such a sloppy mess. Players were dropping passes, QB’s were slipping and making in accurate throws, offenses had a hard time getting any traction; it was ugly. The first quarter was fairly uneventful. The Steelers opened with an unstoppable drive, most of it coming through the ground game, but the Jets were able to hold on the goal line forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal. The Jets then put together their own sustained drive which ended the first, and they opened the second with a 49 yard field goal that missed. However, on their next series, the Steelers turned the ball over after a Roethlisberger interception, and the Jets were able to drive the short field to get a TD on a one yard run by Tomlinson. The third quarter was just a sloppy, frustrating mess. Three key passes were dropped by Jets players on third down, and Roethlisberger over threw a couple of wide open receivers. The Steelers continued to dominate the ground game, but their drives consistently ground to a halt just outside of scoring range. In the fourth, Pittsburgh tried a 45 yard field goal, but missed, and the Jets got a few yards back the other way before settling for a 22 yard field goal of their own. And that was that. A sloppy, messy game in the snow ended with a tough Jets win over the Steelers. I can only assume that both teams will play better than they did in our sim, so who knows how this one may really turn out. Sanchez ended the day with 6 of 20 for 91 yards. Roethlisberger didn’t do any better, completing only 5 of 17 for a meager 47 yards and 1 INT (like that’s going to happen). Interestingly enough, the Steelers ground game was really working for them, so I don’t know why they didn’t go to it more considering their problems through the air. Mendenhall was getting around 5 yards a carry and had 87 yards on the day. Tomlinson had a tougher time against the Steeler defense, but was able to amass 38 yards and a TD. The Jets also had five sacks against Roethlisberger, which could indeed be a key to success against the Steelers on Sunday.
Green Bay vs. Chicago - Packers 38, Bears 14:
This is a game that could potentially upstage the Super Bowl. It’s a classic rivalry between two storied franchises played outside in the elements (how cool would a snowy Packers/Bears game be?) Things got off to a fast start as Chicago turned the ball over on a Cutler interception. Rodgers quickly turned that into points on a 11 yard pass to Hall. The Bears recovered just fine on their next series, taking up the rest of the quarter with a long drive that ended with a TD early in the second. Green Bay came right back as they drove the field for a 16 yard TD to Jones. However, the seesaw battle continued as the Bears were unstoppable once again with a drive that ended with a 15 yard TD pass to Olsen. With time running out in the half, the Packers were able to get into field goal range for 3 more points just before the half ended. The opened the second half with the ball, and they once again drove down the field, this time utilizing the ground game, and got a TD with a one yard rush by Starks. It looked as though Chicago would respond in kind as their next drive got off to a good start, but it was quickly ended with an INT that was returned for a TD. Going into the fourth, the Bears put together another solid looking drive, but for the third time of the day, Cutler didn’t see the coverage correctly and was intercepted. The Bears D kept the Packers from turning that into points, but the final nail in the coffin came on the next possession for the Bears. Once again a solid looking drive ended in disaster as Forte put the ball on the ground and the Packers recovered it. Rodgers ended the game with a 37 yard TD pass to Jennings, and thus ended the hopes of Chicago reaching the Super Bowl. Rodgers ended the day with 18 of 27 for 256 yards and 3 TDs. Cutler could have had a stellar day as well, if it wasn’t for the turnovers. He went 17 of 30 for 257 yards, 2 TDs and 3 very costly INTs. The ground game worked when it needed to for Green Bay, with Jackson getting 38 yards and Starks another 13 plus a TD. Since they were playing from behind in the second half, the Bears never really did get their ground game going. Jones ended the day with 102 yards receiving and a TD for the Packers, and Bennett was the main target for the Bears with 121 yards receiving. Turnovers, they’re costly and despite his solid play recently, Cutler is prone to throw them, so we’ll see what happens on Sunday.